Bumpy Ride

Eastlake resident Mike Charlton's quest to break a long-held land speed record hits the big screen.

Many things in life have consumed Mike Charlton, but he may finally get the best of one: pushing a jet-powered motorcycle past 400 mph to break the land speed record for bikes.

For years, he's been building a motorcycle in his Eastlake garage he hopes to one day use to break the record on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. We first profiled the longtime gearhead in 2009. Since then, Charlton's been divorced, and during his last trip to Bonneville, a bad starter caused his bike's motor to blow up before he even got it off the trailer. "We just had a two-year pit stop," he says. "That's all it is."

But it hasn't all been bad. During Charlton's first trip to the Salt Flats in 2009, he met director Jose Asuncion. The filmmaker was there to work with another team, but scrapped that project to focus on Charlton.

This month, Clevelanders can share in Charlton's quest when Sick Mick and the Boys premieres at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The movie profiles Charlton, his journey to break the record and the impact it's had on him and his personal life.

Charlton, now back to work with Laborers' Local 860 after a long stint of unemployment, says he and his family have spent about $40,000 so far on the motorcycle project, adding he needs about $20,000 more to get the bike back out to Utah.

"The bike's ready to go right now. I just have to get the driver ready — that's me," Charlton says. And how does he prepare himself to be strapped into a jet-powered motorcycle and push it past 400 mph? "A lot of praying."

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